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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Dear Shira


Dear Shira:

How to Manage My Portable Sound System on Gigs?



The Question

Dear Shira:

I will be doing my first gig soon, performing at a birthday party. I was going to bring my boyfriend to work the boom box, but that is not going to work out. Please tell me how you work the boom box when you go out on gigs alone. I plan to put all my songs on one CD/playlist, in the order that I will perform them.

I originally wanted someone to pause the music after certain songs, so I can grab my veil, or put on my cymbals or go with the flow of the party. Please offer some advice. Thanks!

--Beginning Bellygrammer



Shira Responds

Dear Bellygrammer:

Congratulations on moving into the entertaining world of delivering bellygrams! It can be lots of fun!

I have a few suggestions that may help you with your first show.

First, I wouldn't recommend pausing your music between songs as you suggest. It makes you look as though you weren't quite prepared and it makes your performance look choppy. As soon as the music stops and you go marching over to get another prop during the gap, it interrupts the flow. When you take such a break, audience members take it as an invitation to chatter, head for the bathroom, or go get another can of beer. Then you have to get their attention all over again when you resume your dance.

Look for ways to do your show with smooth transitions from one song to the next. Don't stop the music to grab your veil — wrap it around you before you even begin your show and tuck it into your costume, then make your grand entrance. "Dance it off" gracefully when you reach the part of your music where it fits. Try to avoid taking your cymbals on and off during the show — that is so difficult to do gracefully, and it suggests to the audience you're not a skilled enough dancer to do your entire show with them on! Instead, learn how to cope with veil work and other props while keeping your cymbals on.

You're right, of course, that it's helpful to recruit someone to go along with you when you can. I'm always happiest when I can find someone to go to a gig with me, because not only can I get them to help tote the portable sound system and other props (sword, etc.), but there's also additional security in having a "bodyguard". I live in a safe area, and I accept gigs only in what I judge to be safe situations, but you never know.... You might try asking your dance friends whether any of them would like to accompany you. Maybe a beginner would love to accompany you on your gig to see what belly dancing shows look like.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Still, you can't always find someone who is available to accompany you. So, ahead of time make a CD or a playlist that flows smoothly from one song to the next, and make a spare copy "just in case". There should not be anything on your CD or playlist after the end of your final song. Nothing.

If the host of the party owns a high quality sound system and is able to use it for my show, I prefer to use that instead of my boom box. Typically, someone's home stereo system can be turned up to a louder volume than a dancer's boom box. I bring my own portable sound system just in case, but only as a fallback plan. By using theirs, I ensure that they'll know how to operate the equipment and therefore they'll be less likely to make mistakes that could interfere with my show.

If you have to use your own machine, then before you leave home, place the CD in the boom box. Check the batteries to make sure they contain plenty of power to crank out the volume you need, just in case the place doesn't have a convenient electrical outlet. If your system has the kind of volume control that stays where you set it even after you turn off the boom box, set the volume to where you think it will need to be for this party in advance. Make arrangements for your host to greet you when you arrive, and take the opportunity to explain how to operate your boom box. It's ideal if you only have to explain two things: how to turn it on, and how to adjust the volume.

I hope these ideas are helpful. Have a wonderful time in your show!






Related Articles

Other articles on this web site related to performing professional gigs include:

  • Doing Gigs. What just-turned-pro dancers need to know about doing gigs successfully.



About this Column

Shira has received many questions from readers over the years related to various aspects of the dance. In this column, she picks some of the more interesting ones to answer publicly. Details contained in the questions are sometimes removed or disguised to protect the anonymity of the person who asked the question.



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